RIP Humph.

If you’re a brit, you can’t’ve missed the news. For others, they’ve just announced the death of Humphrey Lyttleton, chairman for over 30 years of the popular radio show “I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue” (ISIHAC), among other things.

ISIHAC was a cult, introducing into our culture (or should that be subculture?) the game of Mornington Crescent, the esteemed Mrs Trellis of North Wales, the ever-lively Samantha, etcetera. It was characterised more than anything by the banter of a team of veteran comedians, coordinated (in the manner of expert cat-herding) by Humph. Banter that was at once witty and lighthearted, outrageously rude, and just like banter within the family. I think that last may have struck the strongest chord with many listeners, including Yours Truly.

I shouldn’t think they’ll try to revive ISIHAC under another chairman (if they do, they’ll surely re-brand it). But the good news for fans is that there is another show where the spirit of ISIHAC lives on, with its own brand of irreverent banter, often only slightly gentler than ISIHAC. Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time stands out as rather good entertainment even for those of us with no garden, nor knowledge of or serious interest in gardening. And its chairman Eric Robson has a definite touch of the Humph about him.

Try it!

Posted on April 25, 2008, in bbc, entertainment. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I think they may be able to replace Humph – as long as the person who replaces him doesn’t try to be him. Other shows, like the News Quiz, have had changes in chairman that have worked so I expect ISIHAC will be able to survive if the panellists think it should.

  2. News Quiz is different IMO. The chairman was never such a dominant force as Humph. Indeed, the dominant character there was the late Alan Coren, and I don’t think it’s been the same since his demise. Though come to think of it, the news quiz had already gone downhill from the days when panellists were *primarily* journalists rather than comedians. At its height I’d’ve called the News Quiz a really-can’t-miss, which is something I’d never have done with an episode of ISIHAC. Sandy is a worthy successor to past chairmen, but her team are no match for the sage of Cricklewood in his heyday.

    Bah, I’m rambling.

    I’d’ve thought a better comparison for Humph would be Nicholas Parsons, who chairs another very-long-running comedy show. But whereas ISIHAC remained fresh, Just a Minute is many years past its sell-by date.

  3. Humph was a splendid chairman of ISIHAC and a rather good trumpet player too. It was always a pleasure to listen to his non-politically correct humour at a time when the BBC was becoming rather too PC for its own good, and I suspect he was the only person who could control messrs Cryer, Garden et al simultaneously!

    Also, in a society where older people are often marginalised, it was great too to see Humph, at 86, still very much at his creative best, working flat out and, seemingly, loving every minute of it.

  4. honorarynewfie

    Hi Niq,

    I’m so sorry mate, wordpress has stopped sending me e-mails letting me know when people post comments on my blog and because I’ve been busy lately I haven’t logged in much because there appeared to be no reason. Additionally, your move on my “Tribute Game” of Mornington Crescent got held up by Akismet.

    In short, I’ve only just noticed it… so I have approved it for you.

    I wish I knew what was going on with this site lately, there are links disappearing between my own blogs !!

    Anyway, I thought I’d leave you a message just so you know I wasn’t being deliberately rude. Apologies again.

    Take it easy.


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